David M. Frank, Ph.D.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

My research and teaching explore the intersections of ethics and philosophy of science. I have published papers on topics in environmental ethics, philosophy of economics, philosophy of conservation biology, and philosophy of psychiatry. I received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas, Austin in 2012 and a B.A. in philosophy from Yale in 2007. From 2012-2015 I was Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in Environmental Studies and the Center for Bioethics at New York University. From 2015-2016 I was Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Peer-reviewed publications:
  • “Ethics of The Scientist qua Policy Advisor: Inductive Risk, Uncertainty, and Catastrophe in Climate Economics.” Forthcoming in Synthese.
  • “Making Uncertainties Explicit: the Jeffreyan Value-Free Ideal and its Limits.” 2017. Exploring Inductive Risk, eds. Kevin Elliott and Ted Richards. Oxford University Press.
  • “’Biodiversity’ and Biological Diversities: Consequences of Pluralism Between Biology and Policy.” 2016. Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Biodiversity, eds. Justin Garson, Anya Plutynski, and Sahotra Sarkar. Routledge.
  • “Biodiversity, Conservation Biology, and Rational Choice.” 2014. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences 45.
  • “Assessing Efficacy of ‘Neuroenhancing’ Drugs: Normative Problems in Empirical Controversies.” 2013. Designer Biology: The Ethics of Intensively Engineering Biological and Ecological Systems, eds. Ronald Sandler and John Basl. Lexington Books.
  • “Asymmetrical Contributions to the Tragedy of the Commons and Some Implications for Conservation.” 2013. Sustainability, 5(3). Second author, with Jennifer Jacquet and Christopher Schlottmann.
  • “Conservation Biology: Ethical Foundations.” Nature Education Knowledge 3(5), 2012. Second author, with Sahotra Sarkar.
  • “Group Decisions in Biodiversity Conservation: Implications from Game Theory.” 2010. PLoS ONE 5(5). First author, with Sahotra Sarkar.
  • “Chagas Disease Risk in Texas.” PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4(10), 2010. Third author, with Sahotra Sarkar, Stavana Strutz, Chissa-Louise Rivaldi, Blake Sissel, and Victor Sánchez-Cordero.
Reviews and commentaries:
  • “Review of Sustainability for a Warming Planet by Roemer et al.” Forthcoming in Ethics, Policy, and Environment.
  • “On Joseph Spengler’s ‘Have Values a Place in Economics?’” Ethics 125, 2, 559-561, 2015.
  • “Conservation Goals and Species Preservation: Uncertainty and Multiple Values.” Ethics, Policy and Environment 16(1), 2013.
  • “Bad Conservation Research is Unethical Conservation Research: Comment on ‘Ethics of Species Research and Preservation’ by Rob Irvine.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2013.
  • “Neuroeconomic Reductionism at Work? A Review of Paul Glimcher’s Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis,” Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 4(1), 2011.
Recent and upcoming talks:
  • “Radical Pluralism in Environmental Ethics.” Scheduled January 2018, International Society for Environmental Ethics session, American Philosophical Association-Eastern Division.
  • “Ethics of the Scientist qua Policy Advisor: Catastrophe and Inductive Risk in Climate Economics.”
    • March 2016, Climate Ethics and Economics Workshop, Duke University.
    "Inductive Risk and Higher Order Uncertainty."
    • August 2015, UNC Chapel Hill.
  • "Biodiversity Value from Theory to Practice."
    • July 2015, International Society for Environmental Ethics, Christian Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany.
  • "Pragmatic Encroachment and Objectivity in Forensic Psychiatry."
    • May 2015, Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry.
  • "From 'War Amongst Ecologists' to Uneasy Consensus: Science-Policy Interactions in the Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function Debate."
    • August 2015, Ecological Society of America.
    • January 2014, University of Tennessee, Philosophy of Conservation Biology graduate seminar.
    • October 2013, NYU History of Science Working Group.
  • "Colony Collapse Disorder and Pesticide Regulation."
    • December, 2013, American Philosophical Association-Eastern Division. International Society for Environmental Ethics.
  • "Comments on Sahotra Sarkar's Environmental Philosophy: From Theory to Practice."
    • March, 2013, American Philosophical Association-Pacific Division.
  • "Definitional Risk and Biodiversity"
  • "Ethical Controversies in Biodiversity Conservation: Case Studies in Ecological Ethics and Social Justice."
    • March, 2012, NYU Environmental Studies and Bioethics.
    • February, 2012, Cal Poly Pomona, Dept. of Philosophy.
  • "Modeling Chagas disease risk in Texas: Idealization and multiple models for use."
  • "The ethics of systematic conservation planning: trade-offs and cooperation." University of Texas, Austin 2nd annual Sustainability Symposium, September, 2011. Watch on Youtube.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    • Spring 2017:
      • Philosophy: Environmental Ethics (UG)
      • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Research Ethics for Biologists (UG)
    • Fall 2016:
      • Philosophy: Introduction to Philosophy (UG)
      • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Evolution and Society (UG)
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • Spring 2016
      • Introduction to Ethics (UG)
    • Fall 2015:
      • Ethics and Economics (UG)
      • Philosophical Perspectives on Justice (UG)
  • New York University:
    • Spring 2014:
      • Topics in Environmental Values and Society: Environmental Risk: Controversies at the Edge of Science and Policy (UG): In this course we will explore interactions between science, values, and policy in the assessment and management of environmental risks, drawing on decision theory, the psychology of decision-making, and the history and philosophy of science. We will address the following questions: How do humans perceive, measure, and model environmental risks? What are the scope and limits of decision theory in assessing and communicating environmental risks? What is the "precautionary principle" and when is its use justified? How do values and policy considerations influence the production and communication of scientific knowledge, and how should they influence environmental scientists assessing and communicating risks? Case studies may include risks due to climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and toxic chemicals, and nuclear waste.
      • Advanced Introduction to Environmental Ethics (Bioethics MA students)
    • Fall 2012, 2013, 2014:
      • Ethics and the Environment (UG): This course introduces philosophical ethics through an engagement with environmental issues of population growth and resource use, pollution and environmental justice, sustainability, non-human animal welfare, biodiversity loss, and global climate change. No prior experience with philosophy is required. The two main goals of the course are to provide students with a more sophisticated conceptual vocabulary to make and evaluate ethical arguments across domains and to engage students’ ethical reasoning and reflection on environmental issues in particular.
    • Summer 2014:
      • Philosophy of Psychopathology (Bioethics MA students): This course explores the idea that psychiatric categories of mental disorder are influenced by values and ethical considerations. We critically examine alternative disciplinary and theoretical approaches to psychopathology, drawing from philosophy of science, neurobiology, history and the social sciences, disability studies, critical race and gender scholarship, and the anti-psychiatry literature. We use these theoretical frameworks to inform discussion of contemporary debates about addiction, depression, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit disorder, and anti-social personality disorder.
    • Spring 2013:
      • Topics in Environmental Values and Society: Philosophy of Environmental Sciences (UG): This course introduces some general issues in philosophy of science by showing how they arise in particular environmental sciences. We examine (i) the interpretation of models and uncertainty in climate science; (ii) ontology in the life sciences; (iii) the concept of biodiversity and prioritization in conservation biology; and (iv) values and ethical issues in environmental and ecological economics. Students should come away with a more sophisticated conceptual understanding of how these sciences work (their goals, methods, and limitations) and how philosophical issues arise within science more generally.
      • Advanced Introduction to Environmental Ethics (Bioethics MA students)